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Rick Santorum 10, Obama 7, Us 7, Jonathan 6, Barack Obama 6, Clinton 6, Illinois 5, Santorum 5, Gingrich 5, Mike Barnicle 5, Marco Rubio 5, Washington 4, America 4, Aflac 4, Lds 3, Colorado 3, Kentucky 3, Newt Gingrich 3, Karl Rove 3, Michelle 3,
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  MSNBC    NOW With Alex Wagner    News/Business. Alex Wagner.  
   Forces driving the day's stories. New.  

    March 15, 2012
    9:00 - 10:00am PDT  

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it's thursday, march 15th, and this is "now." i'm luke russert in for alex wagner. joining me today, ari melber of "the nation," abby huntsman livingston, mike barnicle, and managing editor of thegrio.com, joy-ann reid. gra great to have you guys here. the president's team unleashed its top attack dog today. joe biden just wrapped up its first campaign speech, repeatedly taking shots at the gop field. >> gingrich and romney and santorum, they don't let the facts get in their way. i want to tell you what's real bankruptcy. the economic theories of gingrich, santorum, and romney. they are bankrupt! >> and while biden jumped on the campaign trail, mitt romney remained off the trail for the second straight day, raising cash in the northeast. romney had this to say when asked about his own wealth and ability to connect with the average voter. >> guess what. i made a lot of money.
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i've been very successful. i'm not going to apologize for that. >> uh, not a lot left unsaid, my fearless panelists. mike barnicle, you served under governor romney as a massachusetts resident for many a year. that seems to me that there could have been a lot better way to do that. you know what, i've been very blessed to have so much opportunity in my life and be so successful and i just want to try to give it all back. not holding much back there. >> well, i think he's finally arrived at a fairly decent answer to his wealth. it's taken him quite some time to do it. he has a problem, we talk about this in the morning, quite often, with mark halperin and john heilemann. the traveling press corps does not like mitt romney. and so every gaffe, every statement that he has that he knows the owners of the new york jets or he knows nascar owners is emblazoned in the headlines in a way that gaffes by santorum and/or newt gingrich are just not. so they made larger than life.
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he is his own gaffe machine, because of his reluctance to ask people for help, to do normal things that a candidate would do. you know, i need your help. i need your vote. he doesn't do that. so he appears robotic. >> joy-ann, what struck me was just the tone of that. he was not apologetic in any means. he was not trying too sugarcoat anything. he's like, i've got money, so what! >> he sounds like eddie haskell. it's like the romney robot was not programmed to talk to humans. and the press corps may not like him, but his bigger problem is that the base of his own party doesn't like him. no matter what he does. and they like wealth. he doesn't have a problem with him being in the 1%. it's the way he communicates. >> i disagree. i think what's happened with mitt romney is he is incapable or unable to be the real mitt romney right now -- >> because they'd like him even less. >> well, no. because the base of his party has shifted so far right from four years ago. >> country club republicans are a dying breed.
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the free market guy. >> he's much more moderate than the base of his party. so he's uncomfortable. >> abby, your dad had to deal with his own wealth questions on the campaign trail. he did not make any gaffes of that nature. how does a candidate cut through? >> it's difficult. and i think he's finally to the point, romney, where he says, i do have money, and people are trying to accept that fact, but he's having a very difficult time connecting with people when he says he doesn't have a way to really tell people, this is who i am, please like me for who i am. he doesn't have a way of delivering himself in a way that people can connect to him. and that's a big problem. >> he seems forever entrenched in this straight jacket of, i am the rich guy, and there's nothing he can do to get out of it. >> it's this rich guy thick. and to mike's point, it's also nonideological gaffes. i mean, gingrich says some wild stuff, and it may upset 30% of the listeners, but 30% love it. and i don't think the press licks to jump on that in the same way. when mitt romney talks about the average height of trees or says,
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yeah, i know nascar owners, everyone says, that's just a gaffe. if you say, i invented the internet, it's not like the tech geeks go, oh, that's true. everyone goes, that sounds really dumb. al gore didn't exactly say that, but once the narrative took hold with those words, everyone though it was a punch line. >> you look at the loop continuously of romney saying, i love trees, i love cars, i love michigan. it was played so often, it became clownish. >> that's almost what happened to sarah palin in the 2008 election, the caricature of her becomes the person. >> when you do something that reinforces what the narrative is already about you. romney's narrative is he's out of touch. the traveling press corps is always looking for out of touch moment that reinforce what people already believe. and for him, unfortunately, he keeps stepping into those moments because he doesn't want to be who he is, because he know the base won't accept it. >> to jump on joy-ann reid's point, i think the best answer for him as a conservative about
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money is, i know how to generate revenue without taking it from other people. >> right! i'll make you as rich as i am some day! >> right. taxes involve the transfer of wealth. i'm about creating wealth. i did it on this scale. i'm going to do it for the country. i don't happen to believe that all of his economic proposals do that, but there is a rhetorical answer there that doesn't involve saying, i was rich. >> but don't you believe at this stage, he is so over-coached, so over-managed, so over-sensitized to his wealth and who he is -- >> and on your point about the press corps, that's something you see a lot. when you limit access to the candidate, when he's always programmed, it breeds resentment among the press. if you want to talk about bias in the media, it doesn't matter if you're a democrat or a republican, if the press feels that they're just being -- you're holding back, they're always going to treat you differently. >> i think it also hurts him to try to connect with every crowd you're in front. just be who you are. saying you know the owner of a team or trying to connect with the southerners, just because
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he's in the south, doesn't mean he has to try to be one. >> but doesn't that speak to his rootlessness. every state he's in, is his home state. >> he has a connection everywhere he goes. >> right, he tries to be -- >> everywhere in between. >> he's a very nice guy, you know! >> you paid taxes in the commonwealth, mike. >> you know, ideologically, i'm not his twin, but he's a nice guy. >> erick erickson of redstate.com, the very influential conservative blog that gets a lot of reads on capitol hill, had this to say about the elongated primary. he said, "the one sure thing out of this is that though romney is not becoming a better candidate as the primaries continue, with rick santorum sure is. as for newt? he's becoming less relevant. i still think that santorum versus romney one on one gives romney a run for his money. he needs to become a candidate that conservatives can potentially rally around." it's interesting, you have guys like karl rove who say the elongated primary process is a lot better for mitt romney,
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makes him a tougher candidate. there's always comparisons to hillary clinton and barack obama. but to me, it's different. hillary clinton was somebody who at the end of the day was able to rally the democratic base. and when mitt romney makes the same argument that barack obama made, barack obama was the challenger. mitt romney was supposed to be on top. and the other difference that i always think these comparisons with '08 are completely backyard. in '08, you had two candidates who had passionate bases that had a historic stake in it. for women, this is a chance to have the first woman president. for african-americans, the first african-american president. both their bases were dug in with a positive stake in their candidates. you have everyone trying to push away from the candidate who was most obviously the front-runner. >> and something i found fascinating. look at these victories romney
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is getting, they all have large populations, picking up 36 delegates there. mormons look at the state of illinois, there's a town there that carries some significance. >> yeah, it used to be the headquarters for the lds church. and it was later moved out west. but i think something that hasn't been talked about a lot in this campaign cycle is just, i think the impact the mormons have had on the ground level in these primary states, with such low voter turnout, they can really have an impact if they turn out to vote. and i read yesterday, i think that it was a fourth of nevada that turned out were lds. 14% in arizona were lds. that can make a big difference in the long run as the math goes in his direction. >> and they can do something in illinois. >> in the next few days, i think you'll see that there's a big mormon population there as well. and it will be interesting to the see. >> as we close, we have romney being -- he's outspending santorum 29 to 1. i believe we have a graphic about this. where's my monopoly guy, uncle money bags, wherever he is. look at that, 29 monopoly men to
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one of rick santorum's. where do you come back from that if you're rick santorum? >> look what he's done already. there's rather a staggering story, the success of rick santorum, given the fact he's been so outspent, that he's been so out organized in each and every state. that's a story. erick erickson is about to get his wish. that's going to be one on one. >> and that's still with gingrich in the race. which is interesting. >> well, erick's number one wish is he wants the brokered convention and mitt romney said there will not be a brokered convention. but we shall see. coming up, there are new rumbling that hillary clinton could make a presidential run in 2016. how strong a candidate would secretary clinton be four years from now? and how good would the republican field look? we'll ask the panel, next. always leaning forward here. . you know when i grow up,
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why extremists? always focus on women remains a mystery to me. and they want to control how we dress, they want to control how we act. they even want to control the decisions we make about our health and our own bodies. yes, it is hard to believe, but even here at home, we have to stand up for women's rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us. >> that was hillary clinton speaking at the women in the world summit this past saturday. maureen dowd argued this week the republicans war on women has
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created a glide path to obama this cycle and clinton in the next. the question i have to put up to the panel here is, i am utterly convinced hillary 2016 will happen. she would be 69 years old. she has the international experience. to me, it's another golden year. it's been done in western civilization before. john mccain would have been 72 when he ran -- or been elected. why not? >> absolutely. i agree with you. i think she runs, she absolutely has to grab that moment. 2004 was the first time she sort of missed her moment when she could have run and didn't. i don't think she'd miss it again. and the republican party really has set the stage for women to achieve finally breaking that highest of glass ceilings. i think that she would run and i think that she would probably win. >> i would be really surprised if she ran, but i do think she'd be the best thing for the democratic party. she's proved herself the last four years. she's a hard worker. she looks tired though. she's going to need a couple of years to kind of bring herself back together and getting a
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super pac going again. >> do you think men look tired too? >> absolutely. >> i feel like no one ever says like the guys look tired. sometimes they talk about grey hair, but does she look tired? i don't think it matters. i think at the end of the day, there are two people who tend to win nominations. the new person that's so exciting they run away with it. or the person who has so much stature that you put aside whatever concerns you have because of john mccain or john kerry, or these strong veterans who when they ran out of money or lambasted by the national media, it didn't end up mattering because they been in the public mind for 30 years. she's in that category and her faults have been so fully shown, shown on the left, shown on the right that now she's in a place to just -- >> if she runs, she is the most prepared presidential candidate in the history. >> she was a very strong candidate in 2008. she would be an even stronger candidate in 2016. she would have to take a couple of years off. >> hopefully. >> who would you have? >> you would have marty
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o'malley, probably governor of maryland, probably governor cuomo, governor of new york. several other dark horses out there. >> to beat rick santorum? >> i think feingold can be the real true believer. that will be the very interesting thing. we've got some big shots, what mike was saying, your clinton, your biden, your cuomo. but they're all coming from the heart of the party. there will be a mood from people saying, we have built up this great, strong democratic coalition. but barack obama was not the most liberal thing we can ever do. i think there'll be a big space for someone like that. a dean or feingold-esque figure. >> the bigger story, too, where will the republican party be in four years? >> a lot will depend on who the nominee will be. >> i think they have a candidate in waiting, jeb bush, who has been flat-out not lending his brand to the iteration of the republican party that's out there now. i think it's because he too is running. >> we'll stay on the state of florida, though. marco rubio, for all intents and purposes, marco rubio and bob mcdonnell is the vp come
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november. >> i don't know if i agree with that. >> the vp or -- let's talk about marco rubio for a second. because he's for all intents and purposes looks to be this anointed one within the gop party. marco rubio, could he, could his brand suffer a loss as a vice presidential candidate? >> sure. >> i think so. >> sure. in this year, first of all, they have worked overtime in that party to practically eliminate their chances of getting the bulk of the women's vote. they have worked overtime to practically eliminate their chances of getting the bulk of the hispanic vote. so anyone who loses on that ticket is going to say, well, look what they came in with. look at the baggage that they were carrying as a result of what happened in those primaries. so, yeah, marco rubio or anyone else, i think, unless there's an enormous number of gaffes by the vice presidential candidate. >> and i think a little more experience would do them good as well. i think with president obama, there's that argument, would ef benefited from a few more years of experience? and i think rubio's a good example of sitting back a little
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bit, doing your time, and being more prepared. >> and on capitol hill, if he's taking the same page out of the playbook of hillary clinton and barack obama, not being front and center, declining all the media efforts means he could try to just really ground himself with the policy and the substance. >> but if you look at the policies that he's chosen to side, i think he's doomed himself as a potential candidate for two reasons. one, he's on the wrong side of the dream act. he wouldn't help hispanics at all. besides the fact he's cuban america, not of a mexican background, like 65% of the hispanic-american cohort. he has a different life experience that's not related on the immigration issue. and he begins the dream act. and he was also a part of this contraception thing. his name wasn't prominent, but i believe it was the burton of the bill that was trying to allow -- he was the other guy that sponsored that bill. so he's placed himself on the far right, issues wise. so i don't think he even helps to bring more hispanics. and i don't think he runs because he's loyal to jeb bush. jeb bush is going to run in 16. if he were to run and that ticket were to win, he would
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freeze jeb out. i don't think he would do it. >> ari? >> i think he's -- i think it's fine to do local media, as long as that's what you're focused on as senator. but staying in the senate does not season you for the national stage. it just doesn't. if you were governor, doing something else, i think he'll take whatever exposure he can get. >> well, the longer you stay, the more you have a record, and look at how much rick santorum has so far. saying rick santorum voted to raise the debt ceiling five times. that used to be a normal thing in washington, d.c. you are looking live now at an aerial view of the car taking former illinois governor rod blagojevich, blago is in the car, to federal prison in colorado. we'll discuss blago's future behind bars ahead on "now." but first, march madness kicks off this hour. you better not be watching those games. you've got to watch msnbc. but the contest extends well beyond the court. we'll do our own version of bracketology next on "now." don't go away. ♪
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if you haven't submitted your ncaa tournament bracket yet, you're officially too late. the first jumpball of march mad ps just took place in kentucky. that would be the president's picks. and guys, we need to talk about this, because his final four, to me, looks just a tad political. we have kentucky. all right, that's a solid gop state, but north carolina, swing state. ohio state, swing state. missouri, swing state. we also have a few upsets here. new mexico, swing state over louisville. iowa state over kentucky. is this a political bracket here or -- >> i have three of the four. i have three of those four. i have baylor, in addition. >> is it something you want to tell us? you're not running for office, mike barnicle. >> no, but those are good picks.
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he knows what he's doing. >> i think he's in election mode to do. i think it's the switch back on again. i think that's been pretty obvious the last week or two. >> but i though his bracket -- >> he did really well last year. in the 17th percentile. >> he was in the top, top, top. and at one point, on the espn list, he was in the top thousandanth out of millions. >> he knows his basketball. >> you don't see any politics in this? >> no. >> there's always politics to it, but i think he knows his basketball. >> so missouri, ohio, north carolina. none of that? >> no. >> none of that? >> all three should be there. >> it does remind me of that all scene in "the west wing," he wants to vacation in like hawaii, and they tell the president, no, you've got to vacation in wyoming. we can pick up two electables. he's like, why should i have to do anything -- i have to do my vacation for politics. and they say, look, if we can get you a point here, then it frees up your about to do
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policy. you should want the cheap points so you can spend your capital on the big things. i have no idea what he's doing with the brackets, but if he is making it a tip to get in, i don't blame him. >> steve kornacki, who's now an msnbc contributor, went really, really into the weeds on this. i want to put this up on the screen. barack obama hates the underdog. "in a way, obama's brackets are a fitting microcosm of his presidency. we were initially conditioned to expect boldness, imagination, outside-the-box thinking, but now weave realized that it's bland, utterly rational pragmatism that really drives him. the story of his bracket history is the story of his presidency, there have been successes and there have been failures. but not for the reasons we would have expected when we first met him all those years ago." >> the official bracket has more swing states than barack obama. >> was steve joking? >> it's not about being right. it's not about rooting for the
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underdog. it's about being right. >> are we as the media looking too far into it? >> the never media never looks too far into it. >> do you think we take ourselves a little too seriously at times, folks? huh? >> and last but not least, the gop has come out against barack obama for this. sean spicer had this quote. "while showing off our amazing college basketball teams is great, many americans are struggling -- soaring gas prices along with our rising deficit and debt probably like the president to spend at least as much time dealing with those issues." >> that's what happens if you work in washington too long. the idea that you're going to pick on the president for liking sports is a knnonstarter. if you lived anywhere else in the country, you would say, he's on the side of basketball, let him have that. i don't think it gets anywhere. >> it's also a very predictable
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reaction and it's why people hate politics and politicians in this country. the idea that anybody in america thinks that, you know, if that son of a gun hadn't picked his final four on tv the other night, i'd be paying 2 and a quarter for a gallon of gas. >> and golf. >> this is america's new national pastime. >> here's a live look at kusa's chopper shot of the car taking former illinois governor rod blagojevich to prison. blago won't be the first politician to do time. we'll ask what's in store for him when another lawmaker-turned-inmate joins us next only on "now" with alex wagner. [ rosa ] i'm rosa and i quit smoking with chantix. when the doctor told me that i could smoke for the first week... i'm like...yeah, ok... little did i know that one week later i wasn't smoking. [ male announcer ] along with support, chantix is proven to help people quit smoking. it reduces the urge to smoke. some people had changes in behavior, thinking or mood, hostility, agitation,
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to do. this, as bad as it is, is the beginning of another part of a long and hard journey that will only get worse before it gets better. >> that was former illinois governor, rod blagojevich, giving one last news conference last night. we've seen a lot of those over the last few years. he is now in this black suv on his way to federal prison in colorado. this morning, he looked all smiles on his last plane ride as a free man. look at that there. mugging it up for the camera. but in a little more than an hour, blago will walk into englewood correctional institution facility where he will become inmate 40892424 and begin serving a 14-year sentence for corruption. joining us now is bob nay, a former congressman from ohio, who spent 17 months in prison after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges. thank you so much for coming on the show, mr. nay. we appreciate it. >> thank you. >> a question i would like to ask you. what should rod blagojevich expect the moment he walks into
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that facility. what's going to happen to him? and will people be out for him because of his notoriety? >> well, the worst part is you walk in, there's a strip search, and you lose everything you own, expect a wedding ring, in his case, if he chooses to keep that. and you're given prison clothes and there you are. and you are on a different planet. you're incarcerated. you will not have any familiarity with how your life functioned right before you walked in. so it's going to be an immediate shock to him that will be up to him as to how he gets out of that. it's going to take three days or one year or three years. >> will he be targeted by guards or fellow inmates from your experience? >> well, from my experience, when i went in, i remember a guy looked at me and he said, you put me in here, you co-authored the sudafed law, you did this to me. that's not -- you know, it's a little bit scary experience. at the end of the day, though, i got along with a lot of people. i worked some programs. i helped tutor people, did my
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job. and i've got to tell you, too, i got harassment from the police side more from the inmate side, from people saying, who do you think you are? i'm talking about the guards. who do you think you are? one of them said, you're not going to get out of here. things like that. more of a psychological type of harassment from the guards. just letting you know that you're not the governor anymore, you're not the congressman anymore. you're in here under their control. but you've got to actually process this whole thing. because it's shocking. and i know people say, well, you know, he made this bed, he can lie in it. he's a human being. he has a family, and he has children, and he needs to get through this. >> mike barnicle? >> bob, let me ask you a question. a lot of people when they see the sentences that people like you or rod blagojevich get and they hear about minimum security prisons, they say, oh, yeah, well, he's going to a minimum security prison, could you talk briefly about what it's like at the end of the day to lose your freedom, the freedom to make a pay phone call. the freedom to go down the corner to get a newspaper, lose
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your freedom? >> you know, you actually make the point that has to be talked about. because i don't care if it's one day. i don't care if it's ten years. if it's 12 years or 20, you lose your freedom. and no matter if people think you deserve it or not, it is a different planet. and prison -- the prison system is a warehousing. it is not rehabilitation for the most part, it is punishment. but you lose the ability to decide when to go, where to go, you're told what time you'll go to bed, you're told where you'll work. every aspect of your life is going to be regulated and monitored. so it is the loss of freedom. and the worst part, frankly, is if you hear your name called to report to the chapel, because it means somebody passed away, number one, that you love and you care about, and number two, you're not going to get out there, and under any circumstances, you are not going to get out to attend the funeral. those are some of the things that go through your mind. you also lose any ability to have any control, if your family has a crisis or a problem, they've got to solve it.
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you can talk to them on the phone, but they've got to solve it without you. so, yes, it's total loss of freedom. i don't care who you are, whether you're a politician, a lawyer, a stockbroker, or if you were a drug deal, it's all the same boat of loss of total freedom and the ability to function in a world that you knew. you're into another world that has different rules that you better follow. >> mr. ney, one of the things that governor blagojevich will be doing is, in fact, working. there's a plethora of jobs available at the facility. can you sort of talk about those jobs and what they mean, and can you find redemption through that work? >> sure. if you don't find a job, by the way, in the federal system, within two weeks, they give you a job. and they normally put you in the kitchen, which is not a pleasant place to be, because some of the theft comes out of the food product and they look at everybody and you're searched, et cetera, and it's not a good working environment. if you want a job, you have to find your own job. you can work in the rec center, and in rod blagojevich's case, and i served with rod, i know
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him, in his case, to maybe work in the law library would be good. and if you're high profile, and i think jack abramoff worked in the warden's office. i was offered that, but i didn't take it. if you go up to the warden's office, you've got, quote, special treatment, and you're a snitch. he needs a job where he can get back, and you can find redemption. you asked the right question. you can do that. >> ari? >> another thing is that a lot of people feel as if members of politicians and members of congress act as if they're above the law. you didn't have that experience. are you in touch with any of your former colleagues. do you think that some of these prosecutions we've seen shows that the system does work or has some impact on people serving, or is there still a sense of being above it, unless it specifically happens to you as an individual member of congress? >> i think being a politician, you look at it and you realize the law and justice are million miles apart sometimes. you look at other people who
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maybe should have went in or shouldn't have been in there. and that's really all irrelevant at the end of the day. in my case, i've got a lot of colleagues, former colleagues that are friends of mine. i've been in contact with them. i worked for eleanor ratner at talk radio news service p. i go back to the hill in that capacity and i talk to people. but you really, i think, are not any different in the sense that the public looks at you different, but you're not any different in the sense of a crime that was committed. i came out of there with more sympathy, frankly, not for the white collar crime guys, but for the guys who have committed the drug offenses, because they're really not getting rehabilitation, and a lot of them have been portrayed as big drug dealers when they were actually addicts. it will wake rod's eyes up as it did mine. >> i'll get you out of here with this one, mr. ney. from the conversations you've had with your colleagues and looking at the system now from the outside, when you went in, is the corruption still there?
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is it more hidden now? or has there been any change through ethics reform? >> there's a lot of good people in the congress they served with. but at the end of the day, it wasn't just jack abramoff and a few, and this is not to say that i didn't do anything wrong, i did. but at the end of the day, there's a lot that goes on and continues to go on. super pac money, a lot of money is going end to in the system was going to end when john mccain did their bill, but it didn't. it got worse. there are always forms of corruption that need to be watched so they're not repeated. >> bob ney, we appreciate your insight as rod blagojevich goes to prison. after the break, a new poll shows that the majority of americans don s are not in favo super pacs, but who really benefits from most of them? i love that my daughter's part fish.
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so far, this election cycle, super pacs have spent more on ads than the candidates they're backing, setting up the possibility that the primary process could last until june. does somebody on the inside of these big money machines think this could be the downfall of the gop? joining us now is jonathan cleekio, the director of communications for american crossroads, a conservative super pac, co-founded by karl rove. jonathan, thanks so much for coming on the program. >> thank you for having me, luke. >> i want to ask you this question. so newt gingrich and rick santorum, the only reason they're still alive at this point is because of super pacs. super pacs have extended the gop nominating process. is this super pac, this super pac idea, that was supposed to give the gop such an advantage in the presidential primaries, hurting the gop now, because it's made it elongated? >> i don't know that the long primaries is hurting the republican party. i mean, it's certainly putting off the general fight between whoever the candidate is and obama. but i don't necessarily believe
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that a long republican primary is a negative. one of the things that folks forget about is when they talk about super pacs, however, is they weren't created by the republicans. it was actually a creature of the last time congress meddled with the campaign finance laws. in 2002, they passed the mccain/feingold act that opened up money that could go to american crossroads, and capped off the amount of money that could be raised by political parties. there's been a shift in power from the rnc and dnc over to american crossroads and america usa, president obama's super pac. >> but jonathan, your group is very much made up of, i would say, the more mainstream, big-money guys in the party. at least the ones that we know about. would though -- aren't those guys a little bit angry that someone like foster friess or shel shel shelly anderson can keep this thing moving on? >> speaking for our organization, our main priority is to defeat president obama in 2012. and i don't know that there's a
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sense that this elongated primary is really halting that too much. i mean, it's certainly keeping obama in the spotlight. i mean, he's going to have to be called to account on these gas prices and everything. so there is a lot of attention being paid to the republicans. but the president still is in the limelight. and i think that as soon as this gets into the general, we'll be active and i think our donors are happy about that. >> jonathan, a question. are you at all concerned that in the case of a newt gingrich or rick santorum, in a lot of ways, a single individual can keep a non-viable candidate, speaking specifically about mr. gingrich, viable. and that you basically then have that candidate, essentially be holden to a sponsor. does that bother you at all? >> well, first of all, i don't know that it's kept him viable. i mean, he hasn't won any races since south carolina, so i don't know that he's as viable -- >> georgia. >> he won his home state. >> he's still drawing votes that would theoretically go to santorum to himself. and he can stay in as long as his single sponsor, his one supporter, keeps funding him. >> he has to make a decision as to whether or not he thinks that we can win this race.
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and that's a decision for newt gingrich to make, regardless of who supports him. on the left, you've had situations in the past where the labor unions would support one candidate or another -- >> but that's a lot of people. that's not one guy. >> well, it's usually three or four guys at the top of the union deciding who makes the endorsement, right? >> the folks who are the rank and file of the labor unions are not supporting who the labor union supports. that's a decision made by a couple of people. so i think there are similarities on both sides. >> jonathan, i have a question about the negativity of these ads. i would say $9 out of $10 have gone towards just negative attack ads. do you think this has been a good thing? and if it's been a bad thing, what would you do to fix it? >> i think it's also how you define negative, right? i don't know that the romney super pac has been running ads about gingrich's ex-wives or anything like that. they've been running ads about l his, you know, getting the money from freddie mac or fannie mae or whatever those issues are. these are issues that are designed to thoehold candidate
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politicians to account for what they've done in the past. it's not like going and slewing a candidate's family or wives. not negative in that sense. >> jonathan, "washington post" took a poll earlier this week that said, what do folks think of super pacs. should they be legal or illegal. illegal, 69%, legal, 25%. you're not very well liked out there. >> i guess the first amendment isn't well liked. in reality, i mean, it's kind of an obscure campaign finance thing that we're talking about among friends here. but by and large, what is the understanding of the basis of super pacs? i don't know that that's a really well-educated opinion that most folks were espousing. >> jonathan, the candidate themselves, they've raised about half as much as the gop field did this time in 2008. is it fair to say that super pacs are going to carry this party heading into november? >> well, it's interesting. you're seeing that happen on both sides. one of the things -- karl rove actually had an article in today's "wall street journal" where he showed that president obama and the dnc actually have less money on hand than bush/cheney '04 did eight years
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ago in the same period of time. so i think that there's an effect on both parties with raising money. i think that a lot of donors are having a hard time writing that $2,400 check that's traditional, just because the economy isn't very good. and they want to spend their money paying bills or whatever. so i think that the economy's having an impact on the traditional donations that are going into political parties, and i think that that's one of the reasons why super pacs, relative to the traditional efforts, are having some success this cycle. >> i just had one more question, jonathan. you talked about the first amendment. if it's a positive thing, right, that these entities can get involved in the process, then why do so many donors remain anonymous? like, for instance, american crossroads. do you care to share with us or do your donors care to share with america who they are? >> there was actually an article today in "the washington post" that talked about how many of the nondisclosing -- many of the groups that crow about nondisclosure actually themselves don't disclose donors. and the reason why groups don't always have to disclose their donors is because the constitution, again, through a supreme court case, protects individuals and private
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organizations from having to give over their membership and donor list to the government. they said that there's no compelling reason for the government to know who, you know, who's a member of the naacp or american across roadside or some organization. so it's really a precedent that has a lot of standing in constitutional law. >> jonathan, real quick before we let you go, are you on pace to raise $240 million this cycle? >> our goal for the cycle is $240 million to $300 million. >> you going to hit it? >> i think we're going to hit it. >> $300 million from american crossroads. >> concerned about the direction of the country. >> jonathan, we appreciate it. thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you for having me. coming up, president obama and the first lady hosted their largest state dinner ever last night for british prime minister david cameron and his wife. we'll break down the guest list, the goings-on at that star-studded affair next on what "now"? ♪ ♪
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welcome back. time for "what now?" .
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the guest list for last night's state dinner at the white house was a who's who of celebrities, obama campaign bund hers and political vips. there were 360 golden tickets george clooney, warren buffett, harvey winestein, rory mcilroy, 30 of obama's tom fund-raisers. those coveted seats where supporters raised $200 or $500 grand or more. and also a lady from ohio who had four children serving in the military. i want to talk about a little style here. it seemed like blue was the color. i've got to go to the women on the panel. who wore it better? michelle obama or samantha cameron? >> i think they're both beautiful women, but you always have to go to the solid. you can't go wrong with a beautiful color, solid. and michelle has great arms. you can't argue that. she can wear a dress very, very well. i'm going to give it to michelle. >> i agree. i'm with mobama on this one. i loved the necklace. i think the cameron dress seemed a little bit less dressed up for
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some reason. >> you're absolutely right. the texture of the two dresses, when you think of style, you think of me. i've got my shirt on. >> you guys are going with the blue today too. it must be in season. >> solid color. two glamorous women, and michelle's look was a bit more glamorous. >> and obama went straight bow time. sometimes he does the long, black tie. but very formal, very regal. like you today, ari melber. >> i always aim for obama chic. that's the look i'm going for. i also like that michelle had on the beautiful necklace, which seems very state dinner to me. i've never been to a state dinner, but i feel that's more regal, where the other look was very just the dress and nothing else. >> you have a very good eye for style. >> i'm very impressed with your fashion sense, guys. >> we got to go to vaquero. a 6-year-old girl from prince william can and she's now the youngest student to qualify for the national spelling bee. how impressive is this.
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6 years old, going up there. a lot of those kids there are 12 or 14. >> never mind -- >> double her age! >> never mind the age, in a culture where kids no longer know how to write anything, because they type everything, there's no more penmanship, there's very little spelling taught in schools. this is admirable. more than admirable. >> i agree. >> one key is that she probably hasn't learned to text yet, so she hasn't learned all the back spelling. >> maybe that's helped her. maybe using with ipads and phones now are able to help them in a way. >> i think it's great. one of my favorite movies is "akeelah and the bee." i think getting kids involved in anything academic is great. president obama spoke last hour in maryland about energy and gas prices. without mentioning names, he talked about republican candidates riding the political wave of the moment and calling for $2.50 a gallon gas. he also wondered why they're not calling for $2.40 or $2.10 a gallon, but those prices are nowhere near what people are paying in sacramento, california, where prices jumped
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52 cents in just one month, now up to $4.28 a gallon. that is painful! >> well, three points on that. one, the the energy companies are screwing up every day. i mean, with very little explanation. two, gas prices jumping, that's one side of a two-sided coin. that's the third point. food prices go up when gas prices go up. because it costs more to get the food into the grocery store. that's politically, potentially, pretty powerful. >> mike barnicle's three points, we'll end on that. thanks again to ari, abby, mike, and joy-ann, the indomitable panel. we really appreciate it. thanks to all of you for watching me for the hour. i'll see you back here tomorrow at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific, when i'm joined by michael steele and ben smith. until then, find us at facebook.com/nowwithalex. "andrea mitchell reports." chris cillizza is in for andrea. the bills got mario williams, the biggest free agent signing
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in their history. get fired up! >> i think we're leading with that. coming up, all the glitz and glamour from president obama's state dinner for british prime minister, david cameron and his wife. our jonathan capehart was there. rick santorum steps up the nasty attacks on mitt romney. we'll talk to a santorum senior strategist about that approach. and another abortion controversy. this one heating up in pennsylvania. and a campaign to stop bullying. all that next on "andrea mitchell reports." . every time a local business opens its doors or creates another laptop bag or hires another employee, it's not just good for business, it's good for the entire community. at bank of america, we know the impact that local businesses have on communities. that's why we extended $6.4 billion in new credit to small businesses across the country last year. because the more we help them, the more we help make opportunity possible.
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right now on "andrea mitchell reports," about last night. the glitz, the glamour, and the campaign bundlers. exclusive details from one of the lucky few who got a front row seat at the white house state dinner. setback in afghanistan. president karzai tells nato troops to leave rural villages as the taliban breaks off peace talks. decisn